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Dive Review of Naia in
Other Locations/New Caledonia

July, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by Rob Mougey, CO, US
Report Number 1209
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Vanuatu, Indonesia, Galapagos, Australia, Cayman, Fiji
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

windy, rainy, cloudy  
choppy, currents  
Water Temp
72   to 78    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
No restrictions.  Solo diving OK.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Naia's dedicated camera room was great as usual.  The crew took great care
in handling the cameras.  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
5 stars    
This was an exploratory trip to New Caledonia.  The 24-hour crossing from
Vanuatu was quite rough.  The sails were raised to help reduce the motion,
but it was severe enough to confine many to their staterooms.  The ship
encountered some 20-30 ft seas.

The Naia had arranged to have customs agents fly to Lifou, a small island
off the east coast of New Caledonia, in order to clear entry to the
country.  The process was quick and efficient, and we were soon diving with
a local guide.  Great rock formations and abundant fish life.  The local
dive guide expected follow the leader type diving, our group did our own
thing, as most Naia folks are used to.

We moved on to the island of Ouvea that night for a dive site known for
current, sharks and mantas along the wall.  We once again had a local dive
guide from the island.  They knew the area quite well, but again, were
expecting follow the leader diving.  We tried to behave, and were rewarded
with some great manta encounters.  The current was slack for both dives, so
there weren't many sharks to be seen. 

For the next 8 days, the boat was on it's own.  Exploratory diving at it's
best.  We headed north along the east coast of New Caledonia, seeking
permission to dive interesting atolls and reefs from the locals.  One very
promising area was 'closed', but we managed to find some excellent coral
bommies.  As we moved further north, a small Minke whale decided to swim
with us.  She hung around while we were diving a pinnacle, and then
followed us back to the boat.  Several of us jumped in on snorkel, with a
few on scuba, to play with her.  After an hour, she tired of us and left.

As we continued north, we found excellent dive sites among the many walls
and channels that make up New Caledonia.  Currents were a bit
unpredictable, but when running, provided some amazing big animal
encounters.  We encountered Grey Reef, Silver Tip and Black Tip sharks
numbering in the dozens on each dive.  We also typically saw Dogtooth Tuna,
schools of barracuda and many other pelagic fish.  If the big animals
weren't your thing, there were plenty of Sea Fans, hard corals and reef
fish to keep your attention.  On a couple of dives, we simply had to ride
the 3+ knot current and enjoy the view.

The sheer amount of marine life present on each dive was always surprising.
 It was obvious that there was no pressure from fishing and certainly few,
if any, divers prior to our visit.  It wasn't uncommon to encounter schools
of Raccoon butterflies the size of dinner plates.  We also had numerous
sightings of the more elusive Black butterfly fish, also in large schools
of 30-40.  There were many wrasse species present, including unique species
rarely seen or photographed such as the Mystery wrasse, unusual Fairy
wrasses and the beautiful Harlequin Tusk.  

The reefs were extremely healthy, sporting numerous species of Anthias,
Angelfish, Puffers, and throngs of Rainbow Runners.  It wasn't unusual to
see many species of clownfish living in large groups of anemones that
covered tops of the coral bommies.  There were a few areas of soft coral;
these appeared mainly in the channels were the tidal currents were

As we made our way around the top end of New Caledonia, we stopped at a
small island to stretch our legs and do some tide pool and reef walking. 
We watched as small stingrays darted in the shallow water and were
surprised by an 18-inch Black Tip Reef shark.  It was hunting small fish in
the shallows.

It came time to journey south to Noumea.  The boat worked its way through
the passages and we ended up on the western side of the Island.  Diving was
a bit more hit or miss as there were several rivers that emptied towards
the west.  A surreal moment emerged when we saw a wreck, sitting on top of
the reef wall, fully out of the water.  Seems that the freighter had been
caught in a storm in the 1960's and missed the channel.  Its rusting hulk,
which measures over 300 feet in length, is an odd sight.  

We arrived in Noumea 10 days after entering the country.  For many of us,
this was the end of a 23-day journey aboard Naia, having spent 10 days
diving in Vanuatu and then 10 days diving in New Caledonia.  Nearly
everyone on board was a returning passenger, some of us with 5 and 6 trips.
 The Fijian crew is still among the best, the dive guides were attentive
but not intrusive, and the overall experience was wonderful.  Josh and Liz,
the Cruise Directors, brought a fresh and enthusiastic faces to Naia.  Rob
Barrel was on the boat as well, providing his trademark dive briefing
tagline "Here's the Deal"!  We missed Cat, but forgave her for
spending time with her new little girl.  

We would return to dive New Caledonia again, but to do it right requires a
live aboard.  To date, there isnt one operating in this country.  There
are several local dive operators that can provide a flavor of some of the
popular sites.  Expect to be diving with many Japanese and European divers.
 Noumea itself is a pretty city, but like all of New Caledonia, it is quite
expensive.  Getting there can be a challenge.  Many of us flew through
Sydney, while others flew through Fiji, which required multiple hops and

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